A Brief History of Muharram Al-Haram
Muharram Al-Haram is one of the four months of Islamic Lunar Calendar declared sacred by Allah (SWT) in the Glorious Qur'an. The other three months of Islamic Lunar Calendar are Rajab al-Murajab, Dhu al-Qa'dah and Dhu al-Hijjah.
In the Glorious Qur'an verse 59 of Surah An Nisa, Allah (SWT) says:
"O you who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger and "Ulil Amr" (Those who are authorized to command) from among you."
The believers always obey Allah (SWT), obey His Messenger and the "Ulil Amr" appointed by Him. It is an open invitation. Because, Laa Ikraaha Fid Deen [There is no compulsion in religion] (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:256). Those who (in truth) are not believers can do what they want.
Likewise Prophets, Messengers, sent down by Allah (SWT) to guide and warn people, never accepted anyone at all as Prophet or Messenger, whatever the circumstances were, be it that they did not stop claimers of this kind, or opponents, with application of force or repression.
In the same manner Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (A.S.) did not recognize anyone as "Ulil Amr". His elder son Imam Hasan (A.S.), like his grandfather, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) as in the [Treaty of Hudaybiah], let Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan be the ruler, but did not give up his rights of the "Ulil Amr", which he was at that time.
When Yazid ibn Muawiyah became the ruler he threw to the wind the earlier policy of the rulers not to demand "Bayah" (oath of allegiance) from the children of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), and began to exercise pressure upon Imam Hussain (A.S.) to swear loyalty and acknowledge him as the "Ulil Amr", which the Holy Imam rightly refused. It is another aspect of the whole affair that Yazid ibn Muawiyah was the meanest tyrant of the worst degree, but even if he was an ordinary ruler Imam Hussain (A.S.) could not swear loyalty to him as the "Ulil Amr". So he did not. In the month of Rajab al-Murajab 61 Hijrah, he left Medina and went to Makkah. From Makkah, before performing Hajj Pilgrimage, he took his family with him, and with some friends and companions, true believers, he began the journey towards Iraq, with the expressed intention to cross the boundaries of the empire under the rule of Yazid ibn Muawiyah, and settle down in some other country, Iran or India, because he wanted to make it clear to Yazid ibn Muawiyah that he could not allege obedience to a "non-Ulil Amr" as he himself was an "Ulil Amr".
It was not to be. A large army of Yazid ibn Muawiyah under the command of Umar ibn Saad surrounded the caravan of Imam Hussain (A.S.) when he reached Naynawah, Karbala, on the 2nd of Muharram Al-Haram in 61 Hijrah.
There are several other aspects of human relationship and behavior in the events of Karbala that took place in the 10 days of Moharram Al-Haram, culminating in the Martyrdom of Imam Hussain (A.S.), and his 72 friends and relatives, which come into sharp focus as we recount every minute, during the religious gatherings, each year, but, above all, the ultimate reason remains the same, the impossibility of taking "oath of loyalty" (Bayah), by an "Ulil Amr", to obey a "non-Ulil Amr".
After Imam Hussain (A.S.), all his successors to "The office of the Ulil Amr", our holy Imams, refused to obey "Non-Ulil Amr", and every ruler held each of them prisoner, used every trick, applied force and in the end killed every Imam, exactly as Yazid ibn Muawiyah did.
Muharram Al-Haram is a month of mourning for the lovers and followers of "Ahlul Bayt or Aal-e-Muhammad". In this month, on the 10th day (Ashura) in 61 Hijra, Imam Hussain bin Ali (A.S.), the grandson of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) and the younger son of Imam Ali and Fatima Zahra (S.A.), together with his family and friends, in all 72 men, were slain on the sands of the desert of Naynawah, Karbala. Since then, each year, the true followers of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), through grief, sorrow and tears, keep alive the message, cause and purpose of the greatest martyrdom in human history.
A Reflection on Muharram and Karbala
The events of Karbala reflect the collision of the good versus the evil, the virtuous versus the wicked, and the collision of Imam Hussain (the head of virtue) versus Yazid (the head of impiety). Imam Hussain (pbuh) was a revolutionary person, a righteous man, the religious authority, the Imam of Muslim Ummah (nation). As the representative of his grandfather Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Imam Hussain's main concern was to safeguard and protect Islam and guide fellow Muslims. On the other hand, the staying power of the rulers (Muawiya and his son Yazid) depended solely on the might of the sword. They used brute force to rule over the Muslim empire even by all possible illicit means.
The mission of Imam Hussain (pbuh) is distinctly unique, political and religious revolutionary movement in the history of World. His was a tremendous undertaking which still reverberates throughout the Muslim nation. He has been a propelling force and a seminal element in events throughout Islamic history, particularly in the sphere of Jihad (the holy struggle in the way of Almighty God). Imam Hussain's example has remained vividly alive for generations and centuries. His uprising, movement and ideals still have a deep impact on the conscience and awareness of the Muslim empire.
The Holy Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said: "The best of Jihad is that of a word of right spoken to an unjust ruler."
Imam Hussain (pbuh) witnessed the deteriorating political and social situation and clearly recognized that the general policy of the authorities did not abide with Islamic principles. He was aware of the Ummah's numerous and painful afflictions, and was determined to exercise his religious duty, being the duly sanctioned leader & central figure capable of restoring Islamic values. Thus he rose. His revolt is rich in lessons and divinely inspired attitudes. Imam Hussain (pbuh) embodied the sacrifice of self, money, family, social status and the challenge to terror and cruelty. He patiently traversed hundreds of miles, moving both night and day. The epic protest he engendered came at the most critical political juncture. In fact, the Prophet's grandson had vowed to sacrifice himself.
Thus, Karbala proved to be a clash involving Islamic truths versus falsehood, belief versus disbelief, and the oppressed versus the oppressor, faith against brute force. Karbala was about standing in the face of oppression, regardless no matter the cost. In Karbala, Imam Hussain the fifty seven (57) year old second grandson of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), sacrificed his totality and all he had, for one goal. This goal was to let the truth triumph over falsehood eventually, and he did that brilliantly. His goal was to foil the plan that Muawiya had expertly developed for his son, Yazid, which was to establish a permanent Umayyads (Banu Umayya) ruler ship over the Muslim Ummah (even by sacrificing the Islamic principles), but doing it in the name of Islam. Brilliantly, Imam Hussain (pbuh) succeeded in foiling this plan and he exposed the disreputable nature of Umayyads though this was at the expense of his life.
Eventually he was martyred along with his sons, most of his household and all of his companions. The bodies were mutilated and their heads were carried from Karbala, to Kufa and finally Damascus. His womenfolk were taken prisoners and marched across the desert. He himself was expecting all that, but did not budge an inch.
An uprising led by the noblest and best accepted personality in the entire Ummah, is certainly one which is uniquely distinguished as a movement abounding with spiritual, moral and religious ideals. Due to the importance of this personality, we are honored to present this.
Such a sublime revolution has to be studied, dissected and fully understood. Lessons should be drawn from it. Here we note that the backward and downtrodden nations must one day follow in the footsteps of Imam Hussain (pbuh) if they are to challenge the despots.
Karbala never passes away. Its sun never sets in the horizon of history. Its anguish can never be effaced from the conscience of freemen by the collective conspiracy of tyrants.
At Karbala clouds of blood rained and generations of martyrs and revolutionaries took root and sprouted. The sound of the fearless voice of Imam Hussain (pbuh) still echoes in the valley of Karbala, ringing in the ears of time. It is a hurricane that chafes and shakes the tyrants. It is a volcano of blood, violently jolting the despots' thrones. It awakens free consciences and stirs within man the spirit of revolution and Jihad. His voice is still echoing in the ears of mankind:
"By God, I will never give you my hand like a man who has been humiliated, nor will I flee like a slave."
Who actually is Hussain? What is the background of this exceptionally unique and great personality? This prominent man of history, the legend of epics, the word of pride and honor was no less the Grandson of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) the son of his daughter Fatimah Zahra (pbuh) and her cousin and husband the Commander of the Faithful, Ali son of Abu Talib son of Abdul Mutalib son of Hashim.
Hence the only fact remains: "There never was a Hussain before him, there has been none after him."